If you find yourself struggling to stay on top of your inventory and order fulfillment, you are not alone. Growing pains are common among up-and-coming manufacturers. But that does not make them any easier to handle.
When you find yourself experiencing supply chain challenges, you have a choice to make: You can continue to do your best to handle logistics internally, or you can outsource your logistics to a 3PL provider. If you are not sure which path to take, you can monitor your business for clues that will point you toward the best decision to make. Below are seven signs it’s time to outsource your logistics.
1) You are running out of space
Carve out a few minutes to walk through your facility. If you house your inventory onsite, allocate extra time to walk down each aisle to look for evidence of overcrowding. Here are a few glaring clues that you are running low on space:
- Your aisles suddenly feel “too narrow” because you keep adding more racks
- You notice multiple loose pallets or boxes stacked in the corner or in random locations throughout your warehouse
- Your forklift operator regularly has to move items out of the aisles to safely pass through
- You are leasing nearby space because you have run out of space for your inventory
Outsourcing your inventory management will eliminate these symptoms of overcrowding and help prevent damage to your goods. Professional warehouse management providers have the space and resources to store your inventory securely, safely, and in an organized fashion.
2) Critical orders are arriving late
Today’s consumers are more than just impatient. They are demanding and some of them are fickle. Running behind schedule due to inventory shortages, production obstacles, or delivery delays is simply not an option. If you are late delivering just one or two orders, your customer may contemplate taking their business to your competition.
Outsourcing can help prevent supply chain bottlenecks and delivery delays. The industry’s top 3PL providers can scale alongside your business and can quickly add human resources to help ensure that a large rush order ships quickly using a carrier that will guarantee next day arrival. Most 3PL companies have an impressive list of carriers who will deliver on the weekend if you urgently need to meet a deadline.
3) Your freight bills are increasing
Few things are more frustrating than suddenly discovering that your freight costs have steadily been rising, even after controlling for the increase in total number of shipped orders. Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence among growing manufacturers. Here are some reasons why you could find yourself suddenly spending more than you should on shipping costs:
- You only use one carrier rather than making it a practice to request multiple freight quotes from different shipping companies
- You don’t take time to renegotiate your rates with your carriers
- Your carrier(s) may excel in standard ground shipments but are unable to provide competitive rates for international or white glove delivery
By enlisting the help of a 3PL provider to handle your shipping, you will enjoy peace of mind knowing that the most efficient, cost-effective carrier will be used without compromising safe delivery. 3PL providers ship in bulk because they handle shipments for many clients. As a result, they receive more attractive rates. 3PL providers also employ skilled communicators who are trained to notice high prices and negotiate more favorable pricing.
4) Customer satisfaction is declining
Late orders, order inaccuracies, and damaged shipments are common reasons why customer satisfaction may decline. It’s up to you as a business operator to swing into action before your company’s reputation suffers. This process begins by identifying your supply chain deficiencies and adapting your procedures to correct them.
A simpler solution is to outsource your order fulfillment and shipments. With a 3PL provider handling these aspects of your business, you can see how automation, industrial kitting, and rigorous quality control procedures can give your customer satisfaction a well-needed boost.
5) You have noticed an uptick in employee injuries
Employee falls, forklift accidents, and back strain combine to account for the majority of warehouse injuries. While a variety of factors can cause these three types of accidents, falls and forklift accidents can both be caused by the following issues:
- Poor lighting in your warehouse
- Overcrowded warehouse aisles
- Excessive traffic in your warehouse
- Random pallets and inventory sitting on the floor
- Insufficient safety training
If you suddenly find yourself facing an influx of worker’s comp claims, outsourcing your logistics may help. A 3PL partner can assume management of some or part of your inventory, providing immediate relief from any overcrowding, heavy warehouse traffic, and poor visibility. More importantly, they are responsible for providing rigorous safety training to employees who will oversee your inventory.
6) You are losing inventory
If you find yourself facing lost inventory, you are not alone. Virtually every business has experienced inventory loss on at least one occasion. The National Retail Federation (NRF) estimates that inventory shrinkage cost the retail industry $61.7 billion in 2019, an increase of over $10 billion since 2018. Some of the factors leading to lost inventory include employee theft, poor traceability, overstocking, manual tracking, and administrative errors.
By outsourcing your logistics to an industry expert, you can help avoid these pitfalls. 3PL providers are more apt to employ automation, strict employee monitoring, product barcodes, and other measures to help curb inventory loss. Be sure to ask your provider what strategies they would use to help safeguard against this pitfall.
7) Top leaders are consumed with shipping and receiving issues
Your most talented leaders should be focused on growing your business. But they will not be able to help you expand your business if they are spending all their time overseeing shipping and receiving issues.
Outsourcing your logistics allows you to use your top resources more strategically. Rather than pouring money and time into developing great shipping and receiving processes, you can devote your valuable resources to business development. And your most talented members of your team can focus on helping your company achieve its financial goals.
How can you experience the benefits of outsourcing?
Successfully managing inventory and other key logistics elements is not always easy – especially if your top priority is to grow your business. But with the help of an outsourcing firm, you can devote your attention to critical tasks such as increasing your sales and improving customer service.
The best way to experience the benefits of outsourcing is to reach out to a proven leader in the logistics industry. We invite you to contact one of our outsourcing experts at Symbia Logistics to discover why businesses across America trust us to handle their warehousing services and order fulfillment. We look forward to the opportunity to help your business thrive!